An abusive husband who fled the country after murdering his “vulnerable” estranged wife and their two young daughters more than a decade ago has been jailed for life, with a minimum term of 40 years.
Chef Mohammed Abdul Shakur, now 46, spent years on the run after killing 26-year-old Juli Begum and their daughters Anika and Thanha Khanum, aged five and six, on New Year’s Day in 2007.
Shakur fled to his home country of Bangladesh on the next available flight to evade justice where he confessed his crimes to his sister-in-law, warning her: “If you tell the police I will murder you and your children.”
He later moved to India, illegally, and went to ground for several years before his whereabouts became known.
Shakur denied three counts of murder but declined to give evidence in his trial.
Sentencing Shakur at the Old Bailey on Thursday, Judge Richard Marks QC said: “This was a wicked, vicious and sustained attack on two little girls, and on your wife who at 4ft and 8in was a tiny woman.
“By contrast, at around 6ft tall and well built, you were no match for her whatsoever.
“It is difficult to imagine three more vulnerable and defenceless victims.
“You, to this day, have not shown one iota of remorse for what you did.”
He said: “The tenor of your defence is that these killings were not done by you – a defence the jury saw through.”
The judge sentenced him to a 40-year jail term, less the six years, six months and six days spent in custody in India and the UK.
The court heard Shakur had since “accepted” the jury’s findings.
He showed little emotion as the judge returned his sentence.
Police went to the family home in East Ham, east London, on January 10 2007 after concerns from Ms Begum’s relatives.
The body of 4ft 8in Ms Begum was discovered beneath a bedcover with Anika laid across her and Thanha nearby.
By the end of the week, Shakur had fled to Bangladesh telling associates his father was gravely ill, but was eventually arrested in India in May 2013 before being extradited in April 2019.
The couple had an arranged marriage in Bangladesh when Ms Begum was 19, but Shakur had repeatedly been violent towards his wife and did not like their children much because they were not boys, the court heard.
Jurors were not told of Ms Begum’s further claim that he had raped her three or four times around the end of 2000.
While working in an Indian restaurant in Frimley, Surrey, Shakur was paid cash in hand and was allowed to live above his work, jurors heard.
He sent money to his family in Bangladesh while Ms Begum received child benefits, the court heard.
The couple had rowed over his immigration status and financial contribution to the household in the run-up to the massacre, jurors were told.
In her statement, Ms Begum’s sister Sheli described how their mother, Karful Nessa, “would cry in the middle of the night” and was so depressed family members would have to sit with her.
Ms Begum said: “She (Ms Nessa) suffered from depression and it affected her health.
“She used to cry all the time, she told me all the time she couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t sleep.
“She said she could hear Thanha and Anika crying out to her.”
Ms Begum added: “I see them in my mind.
“The only thing I can think of is them, not my husband or my own children.
“It has destroyed my life – I cannot watch the television or see a film without something triggering back to what happened.
“It will be with us for the rest of our lives.”
Speaking after the case, Detective Sergeant Amjad Sharif said: “Shakur’s sentencing brings to a close what has been a protracted and traumatic time for Juli’s family.
“We will likely never be able to understand what could have driven Shakur to snap and end the lives of his wife and two daughters so violently and callously.
“In the years since, Juli, Anika and Thanha’s family have had to endure the most unimaginable torment.
“At times it must have seemed that there would never be justice … Now at last Shakur will serve a substantial custodial sentence for the horrific crimes he committed.”